Monday, November 19, 2012

Week of 11/19/2012

Puerto Rico 51?  Make It Happen Quick!
– by David Matthews 2

Something strange happened while we Americans were wasting six billion dollars to sustain the status quo

The citizens of Puerto Rico decided they wanted to be a full-blown member of the United States of America!

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898.  Its people became American citizens in 1917, enjoying some of the rights and freedoms as any other American but with a few notable exceptions.  They cannot vote for a U.S. President or Vice-President, even though they have a say in the primaries and caucuses.  They only have “shadow representation” in Congress.  They aren’t really covered under the U.S. Constitution because they’re not a state, but they also are not a sovereign nation.  They get Social Security and Medicare, but they don’t pay federal taxes.

It is a political and administrative “grey area” that they’re in… and, the thing is, the voters have wanted this for decades!

For years, the citizens of Puerto Rico were given a choice as to whether or not they wanted change.  They could choose statehood, independence, or continue with their Commonwealth status.  Since 1968, the citizens of Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly to continue with their Commonwealth status.  They voted again in 1993 and 1998 with similar results.

But not this year.

This year was different.  This year they had a two-part referendum.

Question One: Do you want to continue with the current status?

Question Two: Do you prefer Statehood, a “Sovereign Free-Associated State”, or Independence?  By the way, a “Sovereign Free-Associated State” would essentially re-negotiate their Commonwealth status but they would still be in that “grey area”.

The key was the first question.  Only those that voted “No” to the first question could count to vote on the second one.

Puerto Ricans voted “No” to Question One by a 54% majority.  Of those, over 61% voted for statehood.

In other words, for the first time since 1968, the majority of Puerto Ricans actually voted to end their current Commonwealth status and become a full part of the United States of America.

But don’t start planning your statehood party just yet.  It’s still not a done deal.

You see, before we can call Puerto Rico our fifty-first state, it has to go through the United States Congress.  Yes, we are talking about the same Congress that is dominated by one party that is inept and one party that would rather see your children die before doing anything to help out the guy in the White House.  It is now up to them to actually make Puerto Rico a new state.

Puerto Rico already has a “state” constitution.  It already has local infrastructure and “shadow representation” in Washington.  They have done all of the hard work to make statehood reality.  All they need is Congress to sign off on it.

And this is probably the silliest part of it all.  This commentator checked to see if there was any special procedure that needed to be done for statehood, and apparently it just requires Congress to approve it.  No super-majority vote, no two-thirds state ratification, not even a note from Epstein’s mom!  Just a simple bill sponsored and approved by both houses by a simple majority.  Unfortunately for the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the words “simple” and “majority” are alien to this batch of Congressional grifters and shysters.

Let’s get brutally honest here… I firmly believe that Congress should not waste too much time following through with this and make Puerto Rico the fifty-first state.

There is something for both dominant political parties to gain with officially following through with statehood for Puerto Rico.  For the House-dominated GOP, it’s an opportunity to bring in much-needed tax revenue from a territory that currently doesn’t pay any of our federal taxes.  You guys continually claim you want to eliminate the so-called “welfare deadbeats”, right?  Statehood will fix that for one for the biggest welfare recipients we currently have!  And for the Senate-dominated Democrats, you guys get two new full-fledged senators to offset the GOP minority!  Plus, remember what I said about welfare recipients?  They’re not going to vote for the party that takes their benefits away, are they?

At the very least, think of all of the jobs that would be created to come up with new American flags with 51 stars!  Oh, wait, all of our flags come from China now, don’t they?  Well they can correct that mistake as well.

But Congress needs to act on this, and they need to act now before the citizens of Puerto Rico realize just what the hell they’ve voted for and change their minds with another referendum vote.

Understand that Puerto Rico’s current status as a “territory” instead of a state is not unique.  We acquired it along with Guam and the American Samoans back in the age of “manifest destiny”, when American leaders decided to expand our “American Exceptionalism” like our counterparts in the European nations of England, France, and Spain.  We were a little late in the whole “empire-building” thing, but at least we still have ours!  And we treated these territories like we treated our own District of Columbia… it’s “ours” but not really “worthy” of being a full-fledged part of the United States.  We get our imperial cake and get the rest of the world to eat it too.

But just like we did with former territories Hawaii and Alaska over fifty years ago, we now have an opportunity to expand as a nation and bring in a new state whose people are now willing to be a part of.  And unlike the Middle East or Asia, we get to do it without needing to wage a war.  In fact, we already waged that war over a century ago… it’s just long past time that we finished collecting on it and to do away with the antiquated notion of having imperial-like territories.

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